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Hands free writing (and more) - Dasher and Nomon

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Michele Ide-Smith.

The problem with polymaths is that they are often extremely busy doing important stuff. We are extremely fortunate that David MacKay, a Professor of Natural Philosophy (Physics) at Cambridge University, has agreed to give us this unusual talk outlining credible and creative tools for entering text without using a keyboard.

David often seems to be on telly and in the media at the moment talking about the topic of his excellent free book Sustainable Energy – without the hot air . Here’s an excellent video related to the book called How Many Lightbulbs? .

This is a chance to hear him talk about some other cool stuff he has done in the field of Human-Computer Interaction and Accessibility. You can expect an unusual and thought provoking talk.

Date: Wednesday 17th June 2009 Time: 18.30 for 18.45 to 20.00

Venue: Microsoft Research, Cambridge ( Map & address – note that Cambridge is just 45 minutes from Kings Cross but you will need to get a taxi to get to Microsoft Research, or pack a Brompton).

Registration: The event is FREE and you do not need to be a UK UPA member to attend. Please use the Eventbrite service to register .


I’ll describe a couple of communication systems based on information theory, both of which allow fast communication with minimal muscle movements.

First, Dasher – over ten years old now – uses a navigational metaphor to embody an idea stolen from data compression, arithmetic coding. Hands-free writing is possible in any language, using head-tracking, gaze tracking, or one or two switches.

Second, Nomon, created this year by Tamara Broderick, provides a general way of using a single switch to communicate, which is faster and requires fewer gestures than standard Grid methods.

(you can get an introduction to Dasher and Nomon on the Inference Group’s new Videos web page )

This talk is part of the Cambridge Usability Group series.

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